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(87 Posts)
AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 10:08:57

Say you have a couple of relatives who you are particularly friendly with. You buy each other, and each other's children, gifts on birthdays and Christmas. Have done for years.

You have a birthday within a week of one another. You are all meeting to go out for a meal. You turn up for said meal, with card and gift for birthday person.

They have only a card in return. They say 'we are skint and can't afford gifts this year'.

AIBU to think they should say that to you in advance of the meet up, so you don't spend £40 on their gift when they've decided not to do gifts?

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:24:18

sirzy, no! that's clearly not what I said.

I said, I wouldn't give the gift, if they said let's not do gifts, I would honour that, as if I didn't I would think that rude, and dismissive of their suggestion. It would also probably make them feel awkward.

I did not say I wouldn't give it because I wasn't getting one back.

I'm confused, how could you not have understood this sentence?

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 03-Nov-13 11:25:59

Oh and maybe until last minute they had planned on gift but had a bill come out and couldn't. Would a phone call the night before have made any difference? You would have already bought the gift.

Sirzy Sun 03-Nov-13 11:26:52

If they had said "we can't afford to do gifts?" Would you have still given one?

Personally if my sister was struggling to the extent she couldn't buy gifts that would make me want to give her a present more!

Sirzy Sun 03-Nov-13 11:27:40

And it was you who changed the wording of my question to suit what you wanted to say!

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 03-Nov-13 11:29:03

Me too sirzy

I'd have brought the gift along anyway as I'd have already bought it and would want them to enjoy it. I eouldvt need anything back but their company.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:30:39

Ha ha!!

Wow. Okay giles. Relax!

I don't think they felt unable to tell us. I think they didn't bother. I wondered why.

We aren't grabby about gifts. I have repeated over and over again on this thread that it wasn't about the gift. We aren't stupid - I never suggested we spent money we didn't have. I said, we are pretty skint too, and it would actually have been nice to have saved that money, but we did spend it, because we love her and wanted to buy her a gift. I don't see how that is stupidity? You are being unnecessarily rude, I'm not stupid.

All hell has not broken loose. We had a nice meal and went home. It was a pleasant evening. Hell didn't break loose.

I guess I thought they'd feel uncomfortable, maybe they do, maybe they don't. Going by the reactions here, I'm guessing they don't. I have really never seen this situation before, when people exchange gifts on mutual birthdays, they do just that. If one can't for some reason, I've always been told in advance so everyone can mutually not exchange gifts.

But, I've only been in the uk for a few years so maybe I've not come across this yet. Maybe this is normal, so I am willing to accept AIBU and it is normal.

I'd feel super awkward if someone gave me a gift and I didn't reciprocate, on a mutual birthday. That's all.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:32:16

Yeah but them we would have known, that's my point.

It just felt a bit odd at the time. I can't imagine just turning up to an event without a gift.

Obviously, it's just me, and this is totally acceptable. I get it.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 03-Nov-13 11:34:42

Bit if you found out the night before why difference would it have made? Seriously?

What point would knowing have then, if not for you to just not bring your gift? Because that's the only reason tht late in , that there would be any point in telling you.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:36:32

I guess, if they'd said 'let's not do gifts', I would respect that, and not give her her gift.

If they'd said 'we can't afford to do gifts', we'd probably have given her her gift, but said 'we understand you can't and that's fine, but we wanted to give you this anyway' kind of thing.

I don't know, there was just this weird awkwardness when we gave her gift.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:37:22

Although to be honest, if I were in this situation, I don't think I'd wait until the night before to say we weren't able to do a gift. Who buys a gift the night before?

Digressing, but still.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 03-Nov-13 11:38:13

So basically whether or not they got the gift depended on a turn of phrase used to explain the situation, with no thought from you as to why they might have said it?

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 03-Nov-13 11:39:14

Who buys the gift the night before?

Someone who had been busy, ill, broke, sorting out family, helping friends out, etc

BatPenguin Sun 03-Nov-13 11:40:42

Alexa I don't think yabu or 'grabby' at all. If you always exchange gifts at this event then I think it's odd that they turned up with nothing to give knowing you had a gift for them. This Christmas I won't be able to afford to buy presents for family (other than DH and my parents) so when other family members ask what we'd like (as they usually do) I am going to say please don't buy us anything this year as we are expecting our first baby in Feb and can't afford to reciprocate. If these people decide to still buy us a gift that's up to them but at least it won't be awkward when we can't give them anything.
I don't think it would have been unreasonable for them to send a text saying sorry we can't afford to do the usual gifts but we look forward to seeing you and celebrating.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:40:49

I totally don't get where you are coming from giles, sorry.

I think yeah? Because, one is a suggestion that we mutually don't do gifts, the other is an explanation that they won't be. Leaves the ball in our court. I guess?

I just can't imagine turning up to an event without a gift, especially if I knew I would be receiving one. And if I couldn't, I'd say in advance.

I have concluded that I am unusual though!

shewhowines Sun 03-Nov-13 11:42:17

I think the op has been given an unreasonable hard time here. Whether or not she would have given a gift or not , if she had known about it in advance, is irrelevant. That is her choice to make.

What is unreasonable, is that dsis was rude. How could someone rock up with no present, knowing that they will get one. Unspeakably rude. Especially given that their financial situation is the same, if not better, than the other person. They should have let the op know in advance. That is what the op is unhappy about. And justifiably so. Then she would have had the choice to break the expensive pattern if she so wished, or she may have decided to give anyway.

YANBU to think dsis was rude and should have let you know.

Floggingmolly Sun 03-Nov-13 11:43:34

Yes, I'd have been mortified accepting the gift if I hadn't one to reciprocate with.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 11:45:40

Thank you!

I knew I wasn't totally crazy. DH is from the uk and he agreed with me. I thought for a moment there that we were both weird.

Viviennemary Sun 03-Nov-13 11:47:06

I think it is cheeky of them if it was a tradition to give presents. If it was a one off and you decided to buy them a present that's different.

BatPenguin Sun 03-Nov-13 11:49:24

Floggingmolly me too, but then I wouldn't have had the balls to turn up empty handed, accept a gift and then say 'oh we're not doing gifts this year we're skint.'

WhoNickedMyName Sun 03-Nov-13 11:49:34

I'd give up Alexa if I were you. I don't think you come across as greedy or grabby or self centred or whatever else you've been called.

I can't believe that anyone who traditionally does a mutual exchange of gifts, every year, would do what your relations have done and not be literally cringing whilst taking a gift off you. I'd be mortified if I were them.

And I've never been so skint that I could afford to go out for a meal, yet couldn't cough up 5 quid for a token box of chocolates or a packet of socks from Primark or something.

cakebar Sun 03-Nov-13 11:53:03

I don't understand some views on here, op you are not being unusual. This was an awkward situation that could easily have been avoided. They were out of order not to tell you in advance. I would send a text now saying that to avoid any embarrassment can we agree what is happening at Christmas time, you are happy with whatever they decide.

As an aside, you said you were pregnant, do they already have kids? Could there be an upcoming issue with them not wanting to buy your baby gifts? confused

YesterdayI Sun 03-Nov-13 12:01:17

I haven't read every post..

I don't understand the hard time the OP is getting. I think it is off for the other person to say they are not doing gifts at the same time as accepting one off the OP. It's rude and grabby of them.
I also think they could have bought a little present. If they could afford to go out for a meal then I would usually expect them to be able to afford a little something.
Not turning up without a gift gives the impression that they don't care.

I would wait awhile and ask about other birthdays and Christmases, maybe everyone would be happier not getting presents for the adults and just getting presents for the kids.


Preciousbane Sun 03-Nov-13 12:04:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlexaChelsea Sun 03-Nov-13 12:08:05


They have 2 DC's, we have one and are expecting another next year.

Thanks everyone who has reaffirmed my belief in decency.

shewhowines Sun 03-Nov-13 12:10:01

I'd love to be in a financial position that I can just give gifts with no regard to cost or reciprocity.

Most of us enjoy giving, but we all do a little metaphorical dance, to ensure everybody feels comfortable with the situation.

The posters above who said the op is bu are being delusional. It's the thought that counts and I agree you shouldn't give to get back, however everyone should feel comfortable with the situation and if someone changes the metaphorical rules, then that needs to be communicated in advance.

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